Earlier this year, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People published its sixth report card on the status of the Mesoamerican Reef System (MAR). After an analysis of 286 sites in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, the report concluded that the health of the system is poor, with an index of 2.5 out of 5. This conclusion was based on the status of the reef’s coral and fleshy macroalgae cover, as well as the biomass of herbivorous fish and commercial fisheries in the region.
“There is a poor fishing regulation in all four countries,” said Ian Drysdale, coordinator of Healthy Reefs for Healthy People in Honduras. “The decline in coral health that we experience is due to fishing, both industrial and artisanal.”
On top of overfishing, the Mesoamerican Reef suffers from coral bleaching events, in which corals expel the algae that provide most of their food and characteristic color. Stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD), also known as white syndrome, also plagues the reef. White syndrome is a condition that weakens the coral tissues, causing their death.